Filling a bulk grain / seed transporter at Openfield's Portbury Grain Terminal. Photo: Openfield.co.uk.
UK farmers winning GMO-free export market
7th February 2014
A shortage of GM-free oilseed rape among Baltic exporters has forced Turkey to come to the UK in search of supplies. This could be the start of something big ...
Turkey is looking to new suppliers in western Europe where shippers rarely encounter GMO crops.
A 6,000 tonne consignment of oilseed rape from farms across south west England has been despatched to Turkey from the Portbury Grain Terminal, operated by Openfield.
According to Farmers Weekly, this is understood to be the first export of its kind to Turkey from the UK.
Turkey has a stricter policy on the inclusion of GMO material than the European Union - and this is making it increasingly hard for importers to secure compliant supplies on international markets.
Turkey - zero tolerance of GMOs
The EU has a permissible level of 0.1% GMO material, but Turkey has a zero-tolerance policy. Meeting this requirement is also complicated by a shortage of shippers able to reassure importers that they can meet the zero-tolerance rule.
So Turkey is looking to new suppliers in western Europe where shippers rarely encounter GMO crops.
Openfield's head of oilseed rape John Thorpe, who handled the sale, said he was delighted to be taking the Turkish export market for British oilseed rape.
"Turkey has also bought cargoes from France and Germany this season, but with feed mills located in these ports it faces stiff competition for supplies", he told Farmers Weekly.
"UK oilseed rape is recognised as a quality product and buyers appreciate the traceability it carries, but it has to be price competitive too."
The beginning of a new trend?
The development of export markets for GMO-free crops may be the beginning of something big for Europe - as the main cash crop exporting nations in North and South America rely so heavily on GM varieties.
Almost all the exports of corn, soya, canola, rapeseed and other key crops from the Amercas are now either GMO or contaminated with GMOs at detectable levels.
If Europe maintains its GMO-free status in these key commodities, its farmers may find that their crops find a ready market around the world - and command premium prices.
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